Congressional Cmte Hears Bill Stopping Tax-Funded Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 16, 2011   |   7:04PM   |   Washington, DC

A second committee in the House of Representatives held a hearing on a bil that would ban taxpayer funding of abortions across all federal government departments and programs.

The House Judiciary Committee, earlier this month, approved the measure on a mostly partisan 23-14 vote.

H.R. 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” is a government-wide permanent prohibition on taxpayer funding for abortion introduced by Reps. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, and Dan Lipinski, an Illinois Democrat.

Today, the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures subcommittee held a markup of the bill and, before that, news surfaced showing the measure now has 221 official co-sponsors, crossing the 218 threshold necessary for passage on the House floor, where it is expected to easily pass and be sent to the Senate. But that’s where the difficulty in moving the legislation forward will begin because Senate Democrats are led by and controlled by abortion backers who may not allow a vote on the bill.

The bill went to the panel because it affects the tax code by preventing the use of itemized medical deductions such as tax credits like those in the Obamacare bill or tax-advantaged health-care accounts to pay for abortions.

Rep. Pat Tiberi, an Ohio Republican who heads the subcommittee, said it “has a responsibility to lend our tax policy expertise to the development of H.R. 3 to ensure that the relevant provisions serve their intended purpose.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said he wants to make sure the bill would not result in tax increases.

“I understand the point they’re trying to make through the tax code, saying abortion is not health care,” he told Bloomberg News. “We’re just concerned that policy, however well-intentioned or virtuous, not ever mask a net tax increase.”

But the Congressional Budget Office released a report yesterday, Bloomberg noted, saying the bill has a “negligible” effect on tax revenue, meaning it would not be a violation of any Republican pledge to not increase taxes. In fact, Thomas Barthold, chief of staff of the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, said during the hearing today that, because more women would give birth as opposed to havnig an abrotion and would use child tax credits, the bill would be revenue neutral.

That led Norquist to tell members of the committee the bill is not a fiscal problem for him and his group.

“The bill has no net tax change whatsoever, and is therefore not legislation at all relating to the Taxpayer Protection Pledge,” he wrote in a letter to them. “Attempts to claim otherwise are not based on reality, but on mere political gamesmanship of the lowest order.”

Before the hearing, NARAL, a top pro-abrotion group, blasted the legislation.

“H.R. 3 takes the unprecedented step of manipulating the federal tax code to push an extreme anti-choice agenda, which is why the House’s tax-writing committee is granting it a hearing,” said Nancy Keenan, president of the organization.

During the previous  committee debate, some of the Democrats on the panel falsely contended the measure would ban abortions outright, even though it only applies to government funding of abortions.

Committee Chairman Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, said the bill does not ban abortion: “H.R. 3 does not ban abortion. It also does not restrict abortions, or abortion coverage in healthcare plans, as long as those abortions or plans use only private or state funds. Now is the time for Congress to pass one piece of legislation that prohibits the federal funding of abortions and prohibits the use of fiscal policy to encourage or subsidize abortions.”

Smith takled about his bill previously in comments to

“Abortion is not health care. And polls show that taxpayers strongly oppose publically funded abortion—67 percent according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll,” Smith said. “Our new bill is designed to permanently end any U.S. government financial support for abortion whether it be direct funding or by tax credits or any other subsidy.”
“President Obama has said he wants abortion to be rare,” Smith said. “Well, Mr. Obama, here is a bill for you. Even the Guttmacher Institute, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood, says that taxpayer funding bans are a proven abortion reduction method. According to Guttmacher, studies show that when abortion is not publically funded, abortions in the covered population are reduced by roughly 25 percent.”
The bill also codifies the Hyde-Weldon conscience clause that is part of the Hyde amendment. The conscience clause ensures that recipients of federal funding do not discriminate against health care providers, including doctors, nurses and hospitals, because the providers do not provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
“The conscience clause is a critical part of the law which protects health care providers who do not want to take part in the abortion business,” Smith said. “Without it, people could be forced to participate in something they strongly believe to be morally wrong. Without it, faith-based hospitals could lose funding.”

The measure, which enjoys strong support from pro-life groups makes what are annual battles to stop abortion funding permanent federal law. When it comes to taxpayer funding of abortions from the federal government, pro-life advocates have to fight several battles annually in Congress to ensure abortions are not funded in programs ranging from HHS and USAID to health care and the District of Columbia.

When Congress changes hands from Republicans to Democrats, these provisions are sometimes lifted — as in the case of taxpayer funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, which is now currently allowed after years of prohibiting them.

“For over 30 years, a patchwork of policies has regulated federal funding for abortion. Together these various policies ensure that the American taxpayer is not involved in funding the destruction of innocent human life through abortion on demand,” Congressman Smith said last year in a letter to colleagues that obtained.

“This comprehensive approach will reduce the need for the numerous separate abortion funding policies and ensure that no program or agency is exempt from this important safeguard,” he added. “This new legislation will make permanent the policies that currently rely on regular re-approval.”

Only an act of Congress to reverse the law would reinstate the abortion funding.